Islington pictures

The Islington Archaeology & History Society is here to investigate, learn and celebrate the heritage that is left to us. We host lectures and other events, organise walks and produce a quarterly journal. The society, its events, shop and journal are run entirely by volunteers.

On this page: Events Historical and literary walks Journal Our 18th century Islington font

On other pages: Research resources Store: buy books, old maps and more About us and contact Membership

          Archaeology & History Society is on Facebook Keep up to date and join the conversations at our Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/islingtonhistory, which has hundreds of members.



We host 10 lectures a year, usually at Islington Town Hall on Upper Street, N1, as well as book launches and joint events. Talks are free to members; we ask non-members for a £1 donation.

The society runs history walks, including regular George Orwell walks – click here for information on walks.

Wednesday 18 January, 7.30pm, Islington Town Hall

The Grand Junction Water Works and the development of London’s water supply 

Chris Great, London Museum of Water and Steam, Kew

Chris Great will discuss the challenges of supplying water to a rapidly growing city throughout the 19th century, with issues of pollution and disease and the enabling role of the steam engine. Steam was any important source of power the 18th, 19th and even 20th centuries.

The London Museum of Water and Steam has four working beam engines, including a Boulton and Watt of 1820 and the world’s largest working Cornish pumping engine, which was installed in 1846 and worked 24/7 until 1944.

The Kew Engines Trust, the restoration of the engines and how the museum was set up will also be discussed.

Wednesday 15 February, 7.30pm, Islington Town Hall

The abandoned Northern Line extension

Jim Blake, author of Northern Wastes: the Scandal of the Uncompleted Northern Line

Plans for an extension to the Northern Line from Finsbury Park to Highgate and Alexandra Palace were abandoned in the early 1950s – even though works worth more than £3 million had been carried out on it.

The works from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace were virtually complete. Highgate High Level Station was substantially rebuilt in 1940. The extension had been put on hold because of the Second World War. Although London Transport intended to complete the project – even announcing completion dates for 1948-49 – all uncompleted sections were abandoned in the early 1950s.

Jim Blake will tell the story of this abandoned scheme.

Wednesday 15 March, 7.30pm, Islington Town Hall

The Swedenborg Society 

Richard Lines, author of A History of the Swedenborg Society and former Swedenborg Society trustee

Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) was a philosopher, scientist, inventor, astronomer, mathematician, parliamentary figure and theologian.
He had a prolific career as an inventor and scientist; among his designs was a flying machine. Later in life, he became increasingly involved in spiritual matters and wrote 18 published theological works, including a book on the afterlife, Heaven and Hell.

He knew London well and died at Cold Bath Fields, Clerkenwell, in March 1772.

Established in 1810, the Swedenborg Society translates and publishes Swedenborg’s works. Richard Lines was secretary of the Swedenborg Society from 2002 to 2014 and a trustee for nearly 20 years.

Events contacts

If you are interested in giving a talk to the society, please contact chairman Andrew Gardner on Andy [at] islingtonhistory.org.uk

If you are running an event, such as a local history fair or community festival, and think we would be interested in running a stall, please contact Catherine Brighty on 020 7833 1541, catherine.brighteyes [at] hotmail.co.uk, 8 Wynyatt Street, EC1V 7HU

Events we are attending and organising are listed on our Facebook group page at www.facebook.com/groups/islingtonhistory

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Historical and literary walks

A great way to see Islington’s history is through one of our walks. These look at places including Canonbury, Angel, Barnsbury and its squares and the Regent’s canal.

Our Islington Back and Forth stroll looks at distant and recent local history from Angel to the New River and Canonbury, noting literary figures along the way including Tom Paine, John and Charles Wesley, Charles Dickens, George Orwell, Joe Orton and Douglas Adams.

Andrew Gardner, the society chairman, also leads guided tours of the grade I listed Union Chapel, which includes visiting areas rarely open to the public.

For more information, to join or organise a walk for a group of friends of family, contact walks [at] islingtonhistory.org.uk


George Orwell walks

A favourite is the George Orwell walk. Orwell was at his most prolific during his time in Islington. While he was living at 27b Canonbury Square, Animal Farm was published and he worked on drafts of Nineteen Eighty-Four, published numerous essays and articles, and broadcast extensively.

Proceeds from these walks are divided between the Islington Archaeology & History Society and the Margins Project at the Union Chapel,which works with homeless, isolated and marginalised people in Islington, helping them to break the cycle of poverty and crisis, and regain control of their lives.

For more information on walks and booking, email Andy on walks [at] islingtonhistory.org.uk.


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Journal of the Islington
        Archaeology & History Society journal cover
Journal of the Islington Archaeology & History Society

The society produces a quarterly journal, which is sent to members. Back copies can be downloaded from www.clcomms.com/iahs.

We welcome articles on local history, memories and research, and information on books and events. If you would like to write for the journal or have some memories or pictures you would like to share with readers, or have questions you think readers could ask, contact the journal editor Christy Lawrance at christy [at] islingtonhistory.org.uk

Books for review should be sent to Christy Lawrance c/o 6 Northview, Tufnell Park Road, N7 0QB



Typography: an 18th century banner font

Our heading in the banner image uses a Caslon font.

William Caslon ran England’s leading typefoundry in the 18th and early 19th century. He was the first major letter founder in London and remains the most notable letter founder this country has produced

His premises in Chiswell Street, in Clerkenwell in the south of Islington, were established in 1734 and continued to trade until 1936. While at Chiswell Street, Caslon staged monthly organ concerts and served beer he brewed himself.

The Caslon variant in our banner images was designed by Carol Twombly and is based on the Caslon’s specimen pages printed between 1734 and 1770.

The story of William Caslon and his typefoundry can be read on Spitalfields Life.



          Archaeology & History Society is on Facebook Keep up to date with society and Islington news and events by joining our Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/islingtonhistory


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